Friday, December 9, 2011

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton : The Magical Duo

Tim Burton

“A lot of things you see as a child remain with you…you spend a lot of your life trying to recapture the experience.”

– Tim Burton 

A dark and misty night begins once again. The giant monolithic building towers above the rest of the city calling on the end of another day. A tall dark and mysterious figure stands with his back to the wall. Black leather clings to his arms; two large black boots hang on his feet. He is alone. No one knows his name; no one knows how he feels inside; no one cares for him. Society has thrown him aside. He can never again be one of them. This is the world of Timothy William Burton.
In the recent history of film, few people have actually created something so original that it could affect the whole industry. Tim Burton has produced an outstanding amount of films that bring up the question, is Burton one of these people? Could he just be an average, if off-center, filmmaker who has managed to convince everyone he is great, or is he the brilliant visual artist who uses his talents to create great movies?

Johnny Depp

"Someone asked me recently if I feel I've matured into a man, and I started thinking about what it means to be a man. For me, being a man is being someone who has kept the child inside him." 

- Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most versatile actors of his day and age in Hollywood. He frequently plays freakishly eccentric outcasts whose oddities are misunderstood by society, and usually have a flamboyant appearance and mannerism. Johnny Depp has portrayed many diverse roles in his career from Jack Sparrow to Edward Scissorhands. All his characters have had some kind of personality trait that was different in every movie, including mannerisms and accents. Accents are of course, the hardest for most actors to mimic because being attuned to other voices takes weeks of practice. Most will not be able to imitate more than a few voices.
Looking back at classic Johnny Depp movies like ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and ‘Ed Wood’, you get a sense that in every film he embodies a completely different spirit. Most of the characters portrayed by Johnny Depp will haunt the viewers for a very long long time. There is something special about his acting that makes him one of a kind.

The Magical Duo

What happens when a mad actor and a mad director of freak movies works together? It's one of the great actor-director partnerships of modern cinema: Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have made seven films together, beginning with Edward Scissorhands in 1990, taking in Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd, and hitting the financial jackpot with the recent Alice in Wonderland. 

Johnny Depp helps bring Tim Burton's dark creative visions to life in films ranging from animation to horror. Burton and Depp have worked together on seven different movies so far, ranging from animation to science fiction to dark comedy to horror films. Depp’s range of characters and mastery of accents make him the perfect muse for Burton’s brooding visions portraying society’s misfits. Part of the fun is watching how Burton transforms Depp's natural good looks into a darkly distorted version of the filmmaker himself.
Scorsese has De Niro and DiCaprio. Cameron has Schwarzenegger. Burton has Depp.

Indeed, the teaming of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp has proven iconic, lasting more than two decades and yielding seven films. Burton's unique directorial vision prevented Depp from fading into obscurity after his brush with '80s TV heartthrob fame. And in Depp, Burton has found a peculiar alter ego and muse to match his dark visions. Even in their separate projects, their shared body of work remains very much present in our subconscious

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

It all began in 1990, when Depp attempted to parlay his "21 Jump Street" success into a career in films. Perhaps eager to abandon his Tiger Beat matinee-idol image, he made two unconventional choices: John Waters' "Cry-Baby" and Burton's "Edward Scissorhands." Nearly unrecognizable in the latter with the disfigured pale visage, jet-black mad-scientist coif and fetishistic leather garb, he instantly made us forget about Tom Hanson from "21 Jump Street."

Ed Wood (1994)

Burton and Depp's next collaboration, "Ed Wood," was a commercial disaster, but it was nevertheless a defining moment in their respective careers. This loving tribute to the "Worst Director of All Time" proved the pair could excel outside the realm of fantasy and create something wacky and genuinely moving.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

A key to the duo's successful partnership is the fact that it has evolved over time. In the late '90s, Burton attempted to rebound from the disastrous "Mars Attacks!" with prestige projects that had literary or cinematic pedigree. Depp was gradually establishing himself as a bankable leading man. With "Sleepy Hollow," the pair tackled Washington Irving's American Gothic classic. It was also the only time that Burton allowed Depp to look like a proper movie star.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Next, they attempted an adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Although Burton had made family-friendly fare such as "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" and "Beetlejuice" earlier in his career, he had not tried his hand at a beloved children's classic such as this. For the first time, the filmmaker incorporated bright, pastel, candy-colored set designs, while Depp delivered an unusually wired performance as Willy Wonka.

Corpse Bride (2005)

The pair re-teamed for the stop-motion musical, "Corpse Bride," which saw them revisiting familiar Goth territory. Although Burton had produced many of Henry Selick's stop-motion animations such as "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993) and "James and the Giant Peach" (1996), the film marked his first oeuvre in the genre as a director. It was only natural for Depp to lend his voice to its protagonist.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

Burton and Depp apparently couldn't get enough of musical macabre and followed up "Corpse Bride" with the adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's 1979 stage production. Burton had been a fan of the show, and reportedly had approached Sondheim in the late '80s about a screen adaptation. For his part, Depp took singing lessons to show off his vocal chops.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

In this fantasy film based on the Lewis Carroll novel, Depp takes on the role of The Mad Hatter who aids Alice in her adventure through Wonderland.

The Eighth venture:

Dark Shadows (2012)

The pair have now embarked on their eighth film, an adaptation of the 1960s TV "gothic soap opera" Dark Shadows.Depp, currently the world's highest-earning film actor, will take on the role of vampire Barnabas Collins, the character credited with reviving the fortunes of the original TV show, which ran daily in the US between 1966 and 1971, clocking up over 1,200 episodes. Collins, originally played by actor Jonathan Frid, was a 175-year-old vampire who was released from his coffin in the show's 211th episode. Depp has reportedly been obsessed with the character since watching the series as a child.

A poem by movie director Tim Burton about his friend Johnny Depp, published in the book Double Exposure, Take Three, by Roddy McDowell. Drawing by Tim Burton. 


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